Aircraft

Bird-inspired eVTOL could be the real deal

Bird-inspired eVTOL could be t...
Unveiled last month, the Alia draws inspiration from the Arctic tern
Unveiled last month, the Alia draws inspiration from the Arctic tern
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Plans call for the final commercial product – which may be released under a different name – to be entirely battery-powered
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Plans call for the final commercial product – which may be released under a different name – to be entirely battery-powered
One of the proposed charging stations
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One of the proposed charging stations
The Alia utilizes four vertically oriented propellers to take off and land like a helicopter, switching over to a rear vertical pusher prop for faster, more efficient fixed-wing flight while cruising
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The Alia utilizes four vertically oriented propellers to take off and land like a helicopter, switching over to a rear vertical pusher prop for faster, more efficient fixed-wing flight while cruising
Unveiled last month, the Alia draws inspiration from the Arctic tern
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Unveiled last month, the Alia draws inspiration from the Arctic tern
View gallery - 4 images

Although we've heard about a number of proposed passenger-carrying eVTOL (electric vertical take off and landing) aircraft, many are still in the conceptual stage. Such is not the case with the Alia, though, which we're told is making daily test flights.

Being developed by Vermont-based Beta Technologies, the Alia incorporates lessons that the aerospace company learned with its previous smaller eVTOL prototype, the Ava.

The Alia's sleek form was inspired by the aerodynamic body of a bird – specifically the Arctic tern. Quite unlike that animal, however, it utilizes four horizontally oriented propellers to take off and land like a helicopter, switching over to a rear vertical pusher prop for faster, more efficient fixed-wing flight while cruising.

Plans call for the final commercial product – which may be released under a different name – to be entirely battery-powered, with a range of 250 miles (402 km) per charge, a 50-ft (15.2-m) wingspan, a maximum take-off weight of 6,000 lb (2,722 kg), seating for six passengers, and a 200 cubic-foot (5.7 cubic-meter) cargo capacity.

One of the proposed charging stations
One of the proposed charging stations

The current functional prototype was built in 2019, having received its airworthiness certificate this year. Team member Kyle Clark tells us that it's "flying daily."

In fact, development of the Alia was first commissioned by biotech firm United Therapeutics, as a zero-emissions means of delivering organs for transplant. The US Air Force has since commissioned prototypes for its Agility Prime program, which is aimed at boosting the commercial development of air mobility vehicles.

Beta additionally plans to establish a network of rapid-charging stations for the aircraft. Built from shipping containers, these facilities would include arrays of solar panels, grid-connected inverters, energy-storage modules and generators for off-grid charging during peak hours or power outages, plus lounges and sleeping quarters for pilots to use between the legs of their journeys.

Source: Beta Technologies via Wired

View gallery - 4 images
5 comments
minivini
That is a beautiful aircraft!
mediabeing
Something's not right. The props shown look too small. Maybe more blade folds out in centrifugal effect. Maybe the craft is hollow.
Would have been nice to see on in action. Oh well.
Kpar
Airworthiness certificate? That's kind of a big deal.
PAV
Wow!
Towerman
pretty but still just a plane with vertical props, we need more Skai type EVTOL's !